Biography: Carol Ann Desch
Coordinator of Statewide Library Services

Carol Ann Desch

Carol Ann Desch joined the staff of the New York State Library's Division of Library Development in 1984 and has served as the Coordinator of Statewide Library Services and Director of the Division of Library Development since 1996.

During her tenure at the State Library, Ms. Desch has provided leadership and vision for statewide programs, policies and services designed to improve library services for 19 million New Yorkers through a comprehensive network of 73 library systems and over 7000 public, school, academic and special libraries.

Under her leadership, the State Library has obtained over $30 million in private funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Library Foundation to expand public access computing in libraries, obtained $140 million in matching capital funds for public library construction, expanded a successful Summer Reading in New York Libraries program that now serves over 1.9 million young people a year, and obtained over $187 million in federal E-rate discounts for New York's libraries and established a statewide early literacy program “Ready to Read at New York Libraries.”  She also participated in the creation of the New York Online Virtual Electronic Library (NOVELNY), the State Library’s most highly valued program, which now provides over 55 million items annually to New Yorkers through more than 5,600 local libraries. Ms. Desch manages the most comprehensive program of statewide library development services in the nation, including over $100 million annually in diverse state, federal and private funding programs. She engages in extensive policy work with diverse constituency groups and high-level decision makers on priority issues such as statewide technology planning, equity of access to library services, digital literacy, higher service standards, diversity of the profession and legislative advocacy. She advises the State Librarian, Deputy Commissioner, Commissioner and Board of Regents concerning state and federal library programs, policies and services. She represents the State Librarian and the State Education Department within State government, with the Federal government, with national library organizations and with other outside groups and agencies.

Ms. Desch has been active in the New York Library Association, serving as Treasurer and as President of NYLA's Reference and Adult Services Section. As President of the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies (ASCLA), a division of the American Library Association, she led efforts to reauthorize the federal Museum and Library Services Act. Ms. Desch has also served as President of ASCLA's State Library Agencies Section and as a Director-at-Large for both ASCLA and ALA's Public Library Association.

Ms. Desch is recipient of the 2001 Distinguished Alumna Award in Information Science and Policy from the University at Albany, State University of New York. She also received ASCLA’s Cathleen Bourdon Service Award for outstanding service and leadership in 2015.

She received a BA in Education and Social Sciences from the State University College of New York in Oneonta. She is a certified teacher, school library media specialist, and public librarian. She received her Masters in Library Science in 1977 from the University at Albany. Before joining the staff of the New York State Library, she worked at the Bethlehem Public Library in Delmar, New York, where she spearheaded a nationally recognized job and career information service.

Last Updated: August 21, 2019